Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books
Scarlett Thomas was named one of the twenty best young British writers by the Independent on Sunday in 2001 and Writer of the Year at the 2002 Elle Style Awards. After reading The End of Mr. Y, it's easy to understand why.
This book is no slow starter. Right away the reader is thrust into a tension-building scene which finds the main character, Ariel Manto, rushing out of her office as the ground shakes beneath her, just in time to see the next building collapse. The mystery element is introduced from the start too, as Ariel sneaks back into her building to get her keys and reveals that her office, is shared with Professor Saul Burlem, who has been missing since the first week she arrived. Burlem is the only person in the world who has done research on the author Thomas E. Lumas, one of Ariel's main subjects.
Tragedy surrounds Thomas E. Lumas. It was believed that one of his books, The End of Mr. Y, was cursed. The author died soon after writing it, along with everyone who was ever involved with it. Only one copy of the book exists, safely tucked into a bank vault in Germany. Imagine Ariel's surprise as she walks home from work that night and enters a used bookstore. While looking for more works by Thomas E. Lumas, the store assistant mentions that the name sounds familiar and swears she has a copy of the book. Ariel can't believe her luck as a box is brought out, recently bought at auction, and tucked inside is a copy of the novel.
What follows is an adventure which is nothing less than spectacular. The reader gets to read the cursed novel along with Ariel, while at the same time, learning about her life, her bond with her neighbour, the affair with a college professor and her financial struggles. At the end of the book, she is troubled. There is a page missing and it's obvious that it was torn out. Why would it be removed? What did it say?
When her building resumes normal day to day business, she returns to find that two people from the collapsed building will now be sharing her office. In the process of making space for them, she is packing the books which belong to Burlem. As she does so, a piece of paper flutters out of a book. It's a page. No. It's THE page. Why did Burlem have it? Why did he have a copy of The End of Mr. Y? Where is he?
Ariel sets out to find the answers to these and many more questions and ventures into the Troposphere - A place where she can travel through time and space by using the thoughts of others. What she finds inside is beyond imagination, and while she begins exploring in awe and wonder, she soon finds herself within a nightmare that may end up costing Ariel her life.
Where do I even begin with this book? It's simply brilliant. I picked it up and was hooked from the very start. The author has a way of drawing the reader into the book, even when just sharing details of Ariel's day to day life. The characters are vivid, realistic and very easy to connect with.
The story itself is a perfect blend of present and past, and after reading it, it was easy to see why Jonathan Coe stated:
"Not only will you have a great time reading this book, but you will finish it a cleverer person than when you started."
I loved this book.
Author's website: http://www.bookgirl.org/